A former White House national security adviser said the Biden administration should urge China to act to show that it is serious about abolishing North Korea and that Washington’s capabilities to handle North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are running out.
“For too many years, we have let China go with responsibility for North Korea,” said John Bolton, the national security adviser to former President Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019. “As part of the shift in US policy toward Beijing … China’s responsibility for North Korea must be put at the center. “
Bolton said in an interview with VOA’s Korean service on Friday that the Biden administration’s ability to deal with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs is “small and declining rapidly” as the regime’s “immediate threat” of medium-range ballistic missiles is “present to the right”. now.”
North Korea tested 11 missiles in January and ended the month with a medium-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the US territory of Guam.
Denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been halted since October 2019.
Washington has been expresses its openness to meet with Pyongyang without preconditions, but North Korea has largely rejected calls for talks.
Ken Gause, director of the Adversary Analytics Program at the CNA research and analysis organization, said one option Washington has right now is to “try to freeze” North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
“Denuclearization is a bridge too far right now,” Gause said. “A smarter thing to do is to try to put things on the table in return for a freeze – no provocations, no proliferation and no testing.”
China’s key to nuclear disarmament
Bolton said the threat of Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation was “rising day by day” and suggested that the Biden administration need to ensure that China takes action to support statements that it does not want a North Korean nuclear weapon.
“China has for 30 years disguised itself as just another disinterested party that says it does not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. Well, if it was serious, it could make it happen,” Bolton said.
“I think it is important for the world that we provide China with proof of this – either you are doing what you alone have the ability to do, which is to change the regime’s behavior in North Korea, or we are drawing the conclusion that legitimate conclusion that you are fine with North Korea having a nuclear weapon, ”he added.
China, North Korea’s best trading partner, has often been blamed help Pyongyang evade UN sanctions located on North Korea in 2016 to slow down its nuclear and missile programs.
China and Russia, permanent members of the UN Security Council, has long called for easing sanctions against North Korea. By January 20, Beijing and Moscow delayed Washington’s efforts to impose UN sanctions on North Korea after the regime’s fourth missile test of the month.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, told VOA’s Korean service on Friday night that “China’s position on the issue of the Korean Peninsula is consistent and clear. We hope that relevant sides will address the respective concerns through dialogue and consultation.”
He went on to say: “China has always seriously implemented the UN Security Council resolutions on the DPRK. As long as the resolutions remain effective, we will seriously fulfill our international responsibilities and deal with relevant matters in accordance with the resolutions.”
Bolton said it was unlikely North Korea would abandon its nuclear and missile programs through negotiations, adding that the United States should not rule out considering the possibility of a regime change or use of force as an option.
“The United States should not be held hostage by a regime like this,” Bolton said. “That is why the possibility of regime change or, if necessary, the use of force against the North Korean nuclear program cannot be ruled out.”
VOA’s Korean service contacted North Korea’s UN mission for comment on Bolton’s comments, but did not receive a response.
Other experts believe that the United States should pursue a diplomatic solution.
Gary Samore, former coordinator of arms control and weapons of mass destruction in the White House under the Obama administration, said Washington should seek an agreement with Pyongyang through negotiations, although he admits that “atomization is not possible in the foreseeable future.”
“I expect the United States to seek to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for political and economic measures, such as sanctions,” he said.
The Biden administration says it remains committed to diplomacy with North Korea.
“The United States has no hostile intentions toward the DPRK, and we are open to meeting the DPRK without preconditions,” a State Department spokesman told VOA’s Korean Service on Thursday. The DPRK represents North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Liu, the spokesman for the Chinese embassy, said: “If the United States really cares about the welfare of the DPRK people, it should not continue to press the DPRK with sanctions. Instead, it should look up to the nuclear disarmament measures already taken by the DPRK , respond to its legitimate and reasonable concerns and take measures to ease sanctions against the DPRK. “
Bolton expressed skepticism about an idea flown by some North Korean observers that the Biden administration should try Trump-like personal diplomacy or high-level engagement to re-engage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in nuclear negotiations.
Bolton was present at the two summits that Trump held with Kim, first in Singapore in June 2018 and then in Hanoi in February 2019.
“They provided coverage for North Korea systemically to make further progress with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs while apparently trying to reach an agreement with President Trump,” he said.